The year-end retrospectives have already begun on social media. News outlets are pulling together pictorials on who died, who cried, and who triumphed. In a few weeks, financial institutions will issue year-end statements to help investors determine whether their portfolios delivered a net loss or net gain.
When you look back on your year at work, what measures will you use to size it up?
I don’t want to hear about your organization’s performance management process. I want you to think beyond your list of accomplishments, to consider great days at work.
Why Great Days?
We talk about employee engagement a lot. We have an engagement model that explains the integration of maximum satisfaction and maximum contribution. We conduct global engagement research. We run engagement surveys for clients. We offer engagement programs. It’s easy to get swept up in the weeds of data, correlations, and definitions of intangible engagement drivers. Some people hang with us; others politely turn their heads to hide their yawns.
Enter the concept of great days. Everyone has had great days at work. Everyone wants more great days. And more often than not, an individual’s great day delivers what the organization needs. Ka-ching! Great days are what full engagement looks like.
Tens of thousands of professionals worldwide have shared their great days at work with us in workshop settings and research interviews. Although the details can be very different, their great days reflect common themes, such as:
- Challenging work: Great days are often demanding days.
- Community and belonging: They often involve a team or other colleagues.
- Job fit: You like what you’re doing.
- Talent utilization: You are doing what you do best.
- Strategic alignment: You are focused on what matters most for the organization.
- Meaningful work: You experience a sense of purpose.
- Accomplishment and results: You, your team, the organization, and its stakeholders all benefit.
- Personal: Great days are often summed up with descriptors that reflect the values that you hold dear, like achievement, recognition, integrity, personal development, helpfulness, or affiliation.
Making More Great Days
Let’s return to you and your year. Use the steps below to identify the themes for your great days at work. Then look back to consider: How many days felt like that? Why didn’t you have more?
Even more important, look ahead: What do you need to do to have even more great days? Do you need to change your own behavior or attitude? Talk to your manager or colleagues about how you work together? Understand more about how you fit into the organization’s big picture? Pursue personal development? Explore new projects where you can make an impact? Reshape your role?
Think of a specific great day at work. You know the kind: When you go home with a smile on your face and think, “It would be awesome if tomorrow were like that.”
- Record the details: What were you doing? Where were you? With whom? What did you accomplish? How did you feel?
- List five adjectives or phrases that describe that day.
- Pick another great day and repeat the process.
- Look for themes.
When you figure out the ingredients in your great days, post the list near your desk. If you’re artistic (or even if you’re not), draw a picture that represents your great day themes. Scan the image and upload it as background on your smart phone. Do whatever works for you to keep your eye on the prize.
Great days help you remember what full engagement feels like. And if you know what you’re looking for, you can find more of it next year.